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Oregon Tech’s highly selective Salem Dental Hygiene program at Chemeketa Community College graduates 4th class on Saturday, March 11

Mar 06, 2017
The Class of 2017 had a 100% passing rate on National and Regional board examinations, and many graduates of the program are employed within months of graduation

Oregon Institute of Technology’s (Oregon Tech) very selective Dental Hygiene program is proud to announce the graduation of its 4th class on March 11, 2017 at Chemeketa Community College (CCC) in Salem. Offered in partnership with CCC on their campus, the 18 graduates are now qualified to apply for the top dental hygiene licensure in Oregon with an Expanded Practice Permit. Oregon Tech is the only public university in Oregon that offers a bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene, and limits the annual number of students at its Salem location to 20 in order to keep quality high and student/faculty ratios low. Generally, 40-60 students vie for those 20 slots.

Oregon Tech graduates have a lot to look forward as they enter the job market. The Class of 2017 had a 100% passing rate on National and Regional board examinations, and many graduates of the program are employed within months of graduation. Dental Hygiene jobs in Oregon boast an average starting salary of $64,000 - $95,000. Besides its Dental Hygiene bachelor’s programs at CCC in Salem and on its Klamath Falls campus, Oregon Tech is graduating the last class from its Dental Hygiene in La Grande in partnership with Moda Health and Eastern Oregon University.

The partnership model between Chemeketa Community College and Oregon Tech is unique and was the first bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene program housed on a community college campus. The model allows Oregon Tech to reach an entirely new community outside of its residential campus in Klamath Falls, metro campus in Wilsonville, and Online offerings. The program has developed several clinical affiliations with community clinics that students rotate through, including Salem Boy’s & Girl’s Club dental clinic; Love, Inc; Salem Free Clinic; and Capitol Dental.

“With the Dental Hygiene profession rapidly changing as a result of research showing the oral health connection with overall body health, this is an exciting time to enter the profession,” said Paula Hendrix, Program Director of Oregon Tech’s Chemeketa-based program. “One of our goals is to prepare our graduates for many different dental hygiene career paths such as public health, corporate, research, and education. These graduates will be primary health care providers in a variety of settings and will be providing much needed care in communities in the Salem area, and also throughout the state.”

The Dental Hygiene bachelor’s degree prepares students with an intensive program including labs, dental hygiene patient care, restorative dentistry, local anesthesia, and nitrous oxide sedation. The students work on community health projects from inception, to seeking grants, to implementation.

Graduating student, Sandra Busch of Salem shared, “I have learned so much in a short amount of time due to the wonderful instruction of our gifted instructors. They have given us the skills and the courage to be able to do more than we ever thought we could. I will treasure my memories and the friendships formed here for the rest of my life.”

In 2014, the program received donations from the dental community in Salem exceeding $200,000 to start a dental clinic on the campus and students from each class have served within the clinic since that time. The class of 2017 saw nearly 3,000 patients through the clinic, many of which are low income. Students also coordinate and provide dental education and preventive services to populations including day care centers, high school teen parents, farm workers programs, military veterans, and assisted living center residents.

“My time in the dental hygiene program has been very rewarding and such a great experience,” said senior Jessica Grapentine of Newberg. “I couldn't have asked for better faculty to help teach and guide us through becoming dental hygienists. I have built great friendships and have learned so much from my patient experiences in clinic.”

Graduates of the Dental Hygiene Class of 2017 are a unique group, made up of all women this year, and including returning veterans, career-changers, parents, students of different ethnicities, first-generation (in their family to earn a degree), and many who come into the program with a degree in another field already. Graduates will be prepared to work in private practices and clinics, medical facilities, research facilities, public health clinics, educational facilities, and professional sales, with the majority planning on staying in Oregon.

Dental Hygiene Graduation Ceremony Details:

Time: Saturday, March 11 at 11:00 am

Location: Chemeketa Community College, Building 6 Auditorium, 4000 Lancaster Dr. NE, Salem, OR
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